F1 Driver Valtteri Bottas Is the Big Name Cycling Ambassador We Need

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F1 Driver Valtteri Bottas Races Gravel Bryn Lennon - Getty Images

There was one Formula One driver who was able to race during last weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, which was canceled due to massive rains and flooding through the region.

Except it wasn’t a racecar he was racing.

Instead of competing in his usual weekend Grand Prix, Finnish F1 driver Valtteri Bottas headed to Scotland where he joined his partner, pro bike racer Tiffany Cromwell, in The Gralloch, the UK’s only UCI Gravel World Series race.

Bottas had an impressive day on the 113K gravel course, finishing 114th out of more than 800 riders. Cromwell, who races for Canyon//SRAM, ended the day just a few spots higher, winning the women’s race, according to Cycling News. Bottas completed the course in just over four hours. Connor Swift of INEOS Grenadiers won the men’s event.

If it wasn’t for the cancelation of the Grand Prix, it would be easy to presume that Bottas’s gravel day was all part of one big marketing push by Canyon, for whom the Alfa Romeo driver is a brand ambassador.

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BEN STANSALL - Getty Images

Super secret NBD for Bottas

Because just yesterday, Bottas tweeted a cryptic photo of himself with a Canyon frame in the foreground, captioned, “We’ve been working on something. Stay tuned…”

Sure enough, this morning Bottas tweeted again, unveiling the new Canyon Grail CF SL VB77 (“VB77” as a nod to his initials and longtime car number).

The bike was designed by Cromwell, paying homage to a variety of things that inspire Bottas. From his hometown of Lahti, Finland to hockey skates, and campfires, the bike offers “insight into the weird and wonderful workings of an F1 racedriver’s mind,” according to the brand’s web release.

It comes sitting on Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels and boasts a SRAM 1x XPLR AXS wireless groupset.

How did Valtteri Bottas get in to cycling?

Valtteri Bottas has been a passionate cyclist for a decade now. He was invited on a group ride alongside some other F1 drivers in Monaco in November of 2013. Bottas was immediately hooked, likely due to the competitive nature inherent to any racecar driver who has reached the heights Bottas has.

“I got dropped. I got so annoyed that I told myself the next time I joined them I would never be dropped again,” Bottas told Cycling Tips earlier this year. “That was really the motivation to pick up cycling. It seemed like such an easy ride for the pro guys and I blew up. Now that ride is a walk in the park.”

Fast forward ten years and Valtteri Bottas is one of the most popular cyclists in the world. And he’s traded on that popularity to give back to the biking community, launching the new gravel event FNLD GRVL, which debuts next month.

The event features three course lengths—a 177K with 1570m of climbing, a 77K with 800 meters, and a 40K with 411 meters—comes with a €20,000 purse, and will welcome 1500 riders from around the world. Like most other gravel events, FNLD GRVL puts fun at the fore, with a few days’ worth of events leading up to the racing. Shakeouts featuring pro and celebrity riders, Strava scavenger hunts, and happy hours are scheduled from Wednesday through Friday, with the big event happening on Saturday June 10.

Whether or not Valtteri Bottas has a second career in gravel racing once his track days are done remains to be seen. But we can count on his being one of the sport’s most high-profile ambassadors going forward.

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